In the second grade, we had a standing assignment to write a “morning story,” a short story about whatever we did the night before, that we would read to the class the following morning. I dreaded that assignment; instead of writing about what I did, I would write about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go. This frustrated my teacher to no end. He was so frustrated that he called my mother in for a parent-teacher conference.
When my mother saw the note, she took my face in her hands, hugged me, and told me that everything would be all right. We went into the class the next day, me terrified and her holding my hand. That day my mom became my hero. She stood up for me, and for the rest of the year my teacher took my morning story, whether it was about something mundane like making dinner or something as outrageous like building sandcastles on the moon.
The Holy Spirit is a lot like my mom; He has many roles, but ultimately, He is there to nurture our spiritual and emotional well-being. Ellen White, in Acts of the Apostles, refers to the Holy Spirit as “a counselor, sanctifier, guide, and witness.” (Acts of the Apostles, 48). Often, we relegate the Holy Spirit to the role of comforter as noted in John14:26 when there is so much more to the work of the Holy Spirit than that. The Holy Spirit helps us to live full Christian lives, guiding our growth into loving, hopeful, witnesses and disciples of Christ.
He is a counselor, one who provides advice and guidance. When I would sit in front of a blank page every evening wondering what to write, I would turn to my mom as she prepared dinner and ask, “What do I write Mom?” She would ask me a million questions about my day and then end by saying, “Well why don’t you write all that?” In a sense, that is the Holy Spirit acting as a counselor, allowing us to “speak” and make choices. But, to get to that point, we have to have a relationship with God and allow the Holy Spirit into our lives. (Acts 2:38). As we have learned through this quarter’s lesson, the Holy Spirit is a personal being, and as such we need to be in a relationship with Him.
One of the more surprising roles of the Holy Spirit is to provide hope and courage (Romans 15:13; Psalm 31:24). Our day-to-day lives are filled with trials and challenges. Through the companionship of the Holy Spirit, we are able to face those challenges. This covers a range of experiences, from the challenge of dealing with difficult personalities, to facing the loss of a loved one. The Holy Spirit points us toward God and heaven. Not only are we given the courage to stand, but by our example, we act as a witness to God’s love and kindness.
Which brings us to the role of the Holy Spirit as a witness (Acts 1:8). Those in the early church were contemporaries with Jesus; they saw His miracles, walked with Him, and talked with Him. After the crucifixion, they became witnesses to others. And, through the Holy Spirit, we are also witnesses.
The Holy Spirit also acts as a sanctifier. According to 1 John 5:12, the Holy Spirit leads to sanctification. Again, we see the guiding nature of the Holy Spirit and how His influence leads not only the individual Christian journey but also how we lead others to Christ. We have all heard that small voice, the one that tells us, “Don’t go there” or “Take this way home,” a gentle nudging. This can be insight into scripture that leads us to accepting Christ. “Under the Holy Spirit's working even the weakest, by exercising faith in God, learned to improve their entrusted powers and to become sanctified.” (Acts of the Apostles, 50.)
Helper, comforter, advocate, those are the words used to describe the Holy Spirit and the work He performs. In those roles, the Holy Spirit is not just a static, insubstantial being but an active loving presence in our lives.
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